Tower Hamlets needs extra £130,000 to help care for refugee children

Mayor John Biggs. Picture: LBTH

Mayor John Biggs. Picture: LBTH - Credit: Archant

Tower Hamlets is facing a £131,000 shortfall in funding for vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children, the council has said.

The borough has taken in 10 asylum seeking refugee children who have been forced to flee their own war-torn countries.

The council said the children have a range of "complex needs due to the level of trauma from their life within an active war-zone". Two have also been diagnosed with learning needs.

The cost of supporting the children is estimated to be £545,000 a year, however the council is expecting just £414,000 from the government to pay for care costs.

Mayor John Biggs has joined with London Councils to lobby the central government to cover the shortfall.

He said: "The East End has a history of welcoming those fleeing war or persecution and I would like the council to support more child refugees. But we need funds from the government and will continue to lobby it to do the right thing."

Tower Hamlets councillors passed at plans to cover some additional costs for the refugee children during a budget meeting.

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The government recently removed a legal protection from the EU Withdrawal Act for unaccompanied refugees to have rights to reunite with their families in the UK.

Mr Biggs added: "This is an urgent issue of basic humanitarian compassion and I urge the government to give legal protection to child refugees seeking to join relatives already legally settled in this country."

Tower Hamlets committed to taking in 10 children as part of charity Safe Passage's Our Turn campaign last year.

The campaign coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, which re-homed Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution in the 1930s.

Lord Alf Dubs was rescued as part of the programme.

He said: "Tower Hamlets have offered a home to child refugees who would otherwise be trapped in camps, shelters and on the streets in Europe. The council has saved these children from risking their lives on the back of a lorry or dinghy, giving them the chance to travel here safely through the Dubs scheme.

"I urge the UK government to listen to Tower Hamlet's concerns, and increase funding for child refugees."